Along the way, it covered all the previous day's news, mostly vividly underscored by the baffling (to me) obsession with cricket and, no surprise, the weekend fascination with American golfer Tom Watson's quest to turn back the clock and win the British Open (one tab's Monday morning edition included a rollicking column by a curmudgeon, declaring that the mere fact Watson, 59, almost won was the ultimate proof that golf isn't a real sport).
All in all, the Independent was a fun read, with much that was responsibly provocative, and I exited after a nearly 90-minute dissection without a sense I'd just engaged dutifully in some homework assignment. It was just informing and entertaining. Back home, we newspaper guys tend to get nervous with the entertainment quest, seeing that as potentially minimizing an air of authority, and have a devil of a time having fun in a smart, sophisticated way. When it comes to being truly fun, we're a bit repressed, consumed by honorable notions of balance and don't have the courage of our darker impulses. We tend to leave the really lighter or odder explorations of topics to our online versions (which, in the case of the New York Times, is now a richly more robust source than the print edition I reflexively devour each morning in Chicago).
Even Monday, a thin gruel of mostly weekend leftovers for most American papers, provided ample engaging material. Indeed, yesterday's Times of London free-standing features section (Times2) grabbed me by the nipples with a full-page close-up shot of a baby breastfeeding (one can envision dyspeptic U.S. editors holding multiple meetings just on the image), then made a strong case (not entirely new) that women worldwide are conned by the purported benefits of breastfeeding. The supposed ills of formula-feeding (fatter, dumber, more diabetic kids, etc.) is folderol, this argued, with some very solid questions raised about the premises of many breastfeeding studies.
"The problem with the studies is that it is very hard to separate the benefits of the mother's milk from the benefits of the kind of mother who chooses to breastfeed. In the U K, for example, the highest class of women is 60 percent more likely to breastfeed than the lowest, so it is not surprising that research shows that breastfed infants display all the health and educational benefits they were born into.
"In other words, breastfeeding studies could simply be showing what it's like to grow up in a family that makes an effort to be healthy and responsible, as opposed to anything positive in breast milk."
There was far more in Rupert Murdoch's flagship yesterday and, despite my smarty-pants friends' condescension toward what "HE's done to The Times," I found it informative and fun.
And, as we've known forever, they do tab far better over here. "Kate, her drug-dealing millionaire uncle and a deeply embarrassing episode for the royals" was the hard-to-escape headline on Monday's tab Daily Mail, giving me some juicy tale about the family of Prince William's lady friend. And, inside, I also immediately confronted nearly a full-page image of the potbelly of rocker Bryan Ferry, 63, sunning on an Italian beach with his publicist squeeze, who's27. It was all big and bold and unabashed slumming.